605-348-6086 | 529 Kansas City St. Suite 100, Rapid City, SD 57701

Disaster Relief Services

Catholic Social Services of Rapid City has a long tradition of being involved in disaster response in western South Dakota. More than 45 years ago, CSS founder and first executive director, the late Msgr. William O’Connell led a community disaster response to the 1972 Rapid City flood. That tragedy claimed the lives of 238 people and destroyed parts of the city’s commercial center and entire neighborhoods of low-income housing. It also led to Msgr. O’Connell’s foundational work with flood recovery volunteers using case management protocols that eventually became what we now know as National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), which is utilized in disaster response efforts nationwide today. CSS service area covers 43,000 square miles of high plains, forests and agricultural land, a geography that often experiences harsh climates extremes of blizzards, drought, tornadoes, hailstorms, flash floods, wildfires and other disasters.

The Disaster team at CSS is committed to responding to the disaster-related needs of families, communities and parishes in the 22-county area of western South Dakota. Because of CSS’s mission statement to “share in Christ’s ministry of offering hope, promoting individual human dignity and strengthening families and communities.” Currently CSS has a disaster response plan for the Diocese of Rapid City that will be modified to be more reactive. CSS’s is also working with Maynard Konechne who is the Disaster Chairman for the Knights of Columbus of South Dakota. He represents all Knights in the Jurisdiction of South Dakota and represents the Knights on the State VOAD organization. Maynard was recently elected as Vice President of the VOAD organization. CSS is very lucky to be able to work with Maynard and the Knights of Columbus in the event of a disaster. Our future strategies include disseminating the updated disaster plan to parishes and educate the public and parishes on our new plan. We will be discussing the Plan, Prepare, and Protect training to parishes to assist with assessing impact, developing an unmet needs committee, assist with the case management and long-term recovery efforts.

CSS is committed to building relationships between parishes, communities, governments and non-profit agencies here in western South Dakota to deliver relief and hope in the face of future disasters.

Leon Lunders
Disaster Relief Department


There are a couple ways you can volunteer your time to help with future disasters. Contact us for more information!

  • Volunteer to serve on the Long-Term Recovery Group in your community.
  • Volunteer to be a case worker to assess needs after a disaster.


Catholic Social Services has professional licensed counselors available in our main office in Rapid City, at satellite offices in western South Dakota and via telehealth.


To make a donation to a specific disaster community or area, please indicate your preference on your check and mail to Catholic Social Services, 529 Kansas City Street, Rapid City, SD  57701.  All disaster donations will only be used for the specified disaster, unless your indicated for general disaster RELIEF.  

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